Husker Nus: Good and Bad

First the good news: On November 10th, the Numero Group will release Savage Young Du, a 4-LP/3-CD box set of Husker Du’s material recorded between 1979 and 1983. Comprised of 69 songs (47 previously unreleased), the box comes with a hardbound book, reproductions of flyers, previously unseen pictures and probably an ear of corn to show off their Midwestern background. Consisting of single releases, an alternate take of Land Speed Record (hopefully improving on the mess of an LP that used to be readily available at Peachtree Quality Salvage), the Everything Falls Apart LP, the Metal Circus EP and oodles of songs you’ve never heard unless you were in Minnesota back in the day, Savage Young Du is what the cool kids will ask for when they sit on Santa’s lap. But for those of you who want more, a limited number of the box sets ordered from Numero’s mail site will also include a five-song 45 called Extra Circus, songs unreleased from the Metal Circus sessions including an early version of “Standing By the Sea.”

In the bad Husker Nus, the band’s drummer and co-lead vocalists Grant Hart (given name Grantzberg Vernon Hart) succumbed to kidney cancer at age 56 on September 13th. In a band with two incredible songwriters, Hart often shone on their releases. “Diane,” “Pink Turns to Blue,” “Never Talking to You Again,” “Books About UFOs,” “Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill,” “Green Eyes,” “Sorry Somehow,” “Don’t Want to Know if You Are Lonely.” There are a bunch of songwriters who have never written a song as good as just one of these.

Husker Du dissolved in 1988, partially because Hart began meddling in heavy drugs. He then formed Nova Mob before later embarking on a solo career. Grant Hart (back there on the right in this Candy Apple Grey-era photo) was an open bisexual who at one point was incorrectly diagnosed as HIV-positive. In later years, he was a bit more active, with his last LP being 2013’s The Argument, a concept album based on Milton’s Paradise Lost. His final Atlanta appearance came in 2012 at 529.